Happy Friday, lovely knitters!
This week, I became a published author for the third time.
I love writing books – and I always try to make my books as clear and accessible as they can possibly be. But it must be said (and was said, by my friend Beth, many times), that my first two books – Knit to Flatter and Knit Wear Love – required a bit of background on the part of the knitter. My newest book, You Can Knit That, doesn’t. It goes through all of the different ways we can make sweaters, in super-accessible, beginner-friendly terms.
You can read more about the book’s contents, and see pictures of all of the patterns, by clicking here to visit the book’s page – but right now I want to talk about just a few of the patterns in the book. In particular, several sweaters in You Can Knit That that are un-tailored. You might be surprised by this! The vast majority of my past designs have been focused on helping sweater knitters who want something tailored.
But the fact is, un-tailored sweaters can be awesome. Today on the blog, I wanted to talk a little bit about how.
#1: UN-TAILORED SWEATERS ARE EASY
The less tailoring and fitting there is in a sweater, the easier it is to get the sweater to fit you properly. Now, believe it or not, there is some work to be done here – you don’t want the garment falling off of you, and you don’t want it too tight either – but the work is pretty minimal compared to other kinds of garments. There are several un-tailored sweaters in You Can Knit That – and when knitting one, you should choose a size that’s between 4-8” (10 – 20.5 cm) larger than your upper torso measurement, double-check the length, and you’re done.
(The Rigging Sweatshirt, the Blaze Cardigan, and the Cushy Pullover range in ease from 4 to 10”. All look great.)
Well, you’re almost done. The key to these sweaters looking great is to use materials that ensure the garment wears well. You don’t want an un-shaped sweater to feel boxy or stiff, so choose yarn that makes a drapey, fluid fabric. (I used Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy for Rigging, Shibui Maai and Staccato held together for Blaze, and Shibui Maai on its own for Cushy.)
So: Choose your materials carefully, and then lean into an easier sweater project with confidence.
#2: UN-TAILORED SWEATERS ARE FLEXIBLE
In my tutorial on fearless first sweaters, and again in You Can Knit That, I say something that’s worth repeating here: Your sweater happiness is determined by how your expectations play out against reality.
And I don’t want to say that un-tailored sweaters have lowered expectations, because you certainly still want a lovely, wearable sweater! But by and large, your expectations are more flexible for an un-tailored garment. Think about it this way: If you’re after a blazer replica, or a perfectly-tailored hourglassy pullover, you’re going to notice every single place it rubs you even the tiniest bit wrong.
If you’re knitting that perfect beach sweater, or want something to snuggle up in on cold days, you’ll be less apt to notice if it’s the tiniest bit long, or the bust is just a little larger than you’d originally thought.
Sarah could wear Beachwalker 2” smaller or 4” larger and it would still look pretty much the same thanks to its drop-shoulder construction.
#3: UN-TAILORED SWEATERS ARE COMFORTABLE TO WEAR
It’s my mission in life to help you create garments you love to wear. And the fact that you’ll have an easier time out of the gate, and be less likely to be disappointed with your sweater, are both great reasons for me to write a few un-tailored sweater patterns.
But I have to admit, mostly I was excited about working on You Can Knit That sweaters because my own personal style involves a lot of upscale sweatshirt-like tops. I work from home full time, and love being able to throw on something more casual before sitting down at the computer for several hours. I wear jeans a lot, and love a comfy (but attractive) sweater to pair with them.
I want to make several sweaters from You Can Knit That for myself eventually, but one of the samples that has already stolen my heart completely is an un-tailored, all-in-one-piece number without a lick of shaping: The Rigging Sweatshirt.
I’ve worn it a dozen times already, even though I’m trying to keep it pristine for trunk shows! It’s incredibly comfortable, took me hardly any time to knit, and looks great with about a billion things I own. I want another one, a little longer, in grey. And maybe a cuff-to-cuff version with long sleeves in a deep dark red.
It’s hands-down one of the most compelling hand-knits in my closet. And I say that as someone with about a billion hourglassy sweaters that fit me perfectly!
If you wear casual, unstructured clothing from the store, you can create an even better version with your own hands. I promise.
What do you think?
I hope you’ll join me in occasionally switching out your amazingly tailored hand-knit for something a little more relaxed, and give an un-tailored sweater a try! But I want to hear from you either way. What do you most like to wear? Have any success stories, or horror stories, to share?